The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fierce ring to realtor knock

4Raja Sengupta (name changed on request) of CIT Road was regularly harassed and occasionally roughed up by a local goon-turned-promoter eyeing his two-storeyed house for a highrise plot. An FIR was lodged with Beniapukur police station, but things just got worse…

4Kohinoor Engineering Company has been in business for the past 53 years and holds three flats in a Prinsep Street Building for 35 years. One of the owners, according to the firm’s proprietors, smashed open the door and seized the flats when they were not in town. An FIR was lodged with Bowbazar police station.

With a large section of the city’s jobless youth turning to real estate and allied business, tenants, and even owners, of smaller buildings in the city are facing the ‘clear-out-or-face-the-consequences’ heat like never before. And the midnight knock is becoming a real menace.

Calcutta Police officers say promoters are mainly targeting tenants (often in collusion with the house-owners) in the city’s central business district — the Burrabazar-Esplanade-Posta-Vivekananda Road-College Street belt. “While most disputes are basically civil affairs, some turn into law-and-order problems, leading to criminal cases,” says deputy commissioner (central division) Zulfiquar Hasan. Adds Burrabazar’s Trinamul Congress MLA Tapas Roy: “Even a a small office-space is a lucrative proposition in Burrabazar and owner-tenant disputes are common. But they rarely reach the police.”

Federation of West Bengal Trade Association chairman Mahesh Singhania points to the “frequent fires in large buildings in the central business district” and alleges that landlords often use touts to harass commercial tenants and use far-from-fair means of eviction.

Away from the city centre, the targets are “almost always” owners of single and double-storeyed houses with some adjoining open space, says All Calcutta House-Owners’ Association vice-president Amar Mitra. “We have received around 500 such complaints in a year.”

Going by the number of landlord vs tenant cases in court, the acres of contention are concentrated in Kasba, Dhakuria, Jadavpur, Garia, Tollygunge and Behala in the south and east; Dum Dum, Baguiati, Keshtopur, Belghoria, Khardah, Titagarh, Barrackpore, Birati, Madhyamgram and Barasat in the north.

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